University of Michigan Materials Science and Engineering professor Richard Laine has won the Michigan Governor’s 2015 Green Chemistry Award for his work developing a method to produce distillable silicon compounds (alkoxysilanes) from rice hull ash and other agricultural waste products.
When fully developed, the new process will make the same compounds currently made from silicon metal but at 90% less cost. The process will also save an estimated six tons of CO2 emissions for each ton of alkoxysilanes produced. Distillable silicon compounds are used in a wide variety of applications including electronics and paper manufacturing, paints and coatings, optical products and food grade silica used as abrasive in toothpaste.
Now in its seventh year, the Michigan Green Chemistry Governor’s Awards program celebrates innovation and environmental improvement in green chemistry, which involves reducing or eliminating the use or generation of hazardous substances in products and processes.